Headford8k racestart 2008

Mark racing to victory in the Headford 8k 2008 (photo nicked from Athenry AC website)

Best of luck to coach extraordinaire and cross country specialist Mark Davis who represents Ireland this Saturday in the British & Irish Masters Cross Country Championships on the fabled grounds of Aintree racecourse. There’s clearly something in the water in Cahercrin that helps its residents make the grade for Aintree or Cheltenham!

To my knowledge, Mark becomes the first coach from the club to be selected to represent Ireland – others have made it in the past, but prior to their coaching careers including Diarmuid Quill (high jump), Mark Gillen (1500m) and Noel Harvey (10k and xcountry).

Mark's contribution to the club is immense. One of the founding members of the senior section of the club back in 2005, Mark helped drive the senior circuit training sessions in the hall for many years - these predated fit4life and became the seed for the club’s very successful fit4life group in later years when AAI launched that initiative. And in parallel with all of that, Mark has been one of the key coaches in the juvenile club, helping many to great achievements particularly in middle distance and cross country.

One would wonder where Mark finds the time to do his own training, but find it he does and like a vintage wine, Mark keeps on getting better with age! He is on the cusp now of breaking personal bests in a range of distances that he set when 10 years younger – amazing stuff!

To be selected to represent Ireland is a massive achievement and honour for Mark. To have Mark in our club is a massive honour and privilege for the rest of us! Best of luck at the weekend Mark!

Marvellous Autumn Sunshine and cool fresh breezes bathed two of the finest cross country courses in Ireland - Abbotstown in Dublin and Bushfield in Loughrea as Craughwell AC sent teams out to battle on either side of the Country.

Autumn Open Success

The Autumn Open held at the National Cross Country Course in Abbotstown is one of the premier Cross Country events in the Irish Calendar, second only to the National XC.  It is an unusual event in that the top Juniors, Seniors and Masters athletes in Ireland are all launched off together in a massive and frenetic start.  The Juniors running 6k (4 laps) and the Seniors/Masters covering 7.5k (5 laps).  Abbotstown was in good shape, aside from the hill up the back which was muddy and almost unending, dragging up about 400m in total I'd guess.  In each event, a top 6 position put you in strong stead for international selection. As a whole, Craughwell enjoyed our best ever day at the event on Sunday!

Craughwell had 6 athletes in total entered - Jack Miskella (Senior), Paul Joyce (Senior), Mark Davis (Masters), Kyle Moorehead (Jun), William Fitzgerald (Jun) and Sinead Gaffney. 

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In the Junior 6km event, both of the lads had fantastic runs - the popular and talented William Fitzgerald who is just 17 cruised through the field, attacking the hill on each round and maintaining a strong pace throughout to finish a wonderful 15th position overall among the very elite under 20s in Ireland. This is the best ever Craughwell Finish in this event, and a fantastic breakthrough run for a smashing and talented athlete.  If William keeps this steady level of improvement, he can challenge for honours at this event in the future, I have no doubt.  Next home for Craughwell in another breakthrough run was 16-year old Kyle Moorehead in a superb 33rd place.  Kyle ran a big PB for his 5k of 17.30 on a muddy hilly cross country course, which gives you an idea of his pace. 

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Spot the Craughwellites!  Mark, Kyle and Paul are in here somewhere

In the Senior/Masters 7.5k event, I achieved one of my goals for the year (lifetime?) by claiming 4th and a guaranteed spot on the Irish M45 team for the British and Irish Masters in England next month.  The warm-up races in Castlegar and Tuam where I suffered in the second half served me well and my strategy was to take it a bit easy for the first two of the five laps, especially up the hills.  A glance at the watch 500m into the albeit downhill start showed 3:04 per km so I put the brakes on a bit and settled into things, hoping that patience would see people come back to me.  One nice feature of this race is that the masters guys have their age category on their backs so it was easier to see who you were up against... unfortunately my eyesight is not the best so sometimes I chased a lad down to dissapointedly see that he was an M35!.  Anyhow as things went on, people did come back and happily for me, the hard work of the last 3 months paid off, job done, really delighted! :).

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Jack charging ahead!

In the Senior event, Jack Miskella had a super run, taking exactly the opposite strategy of mine.  He headed out hard and hoped that pride would bring him home!  It did bring him home but the last lap was a character test I'd say!  He finished with a fine 38th position overall in the Seniors.  Paul Joyce had one of those days by his high standards, but ran bravely to finish in a very respectable 42nd position.  A lot more to come from Paul.. watch this space!

The event also incorporated an "Experience" event which was similar to a road race, and Sinead Gaffney ran the higher standard version as a good hard training run.  Sinead performed brilliantly to finish 4th in the race of over 300 participants!  Fantastic stuff Sinead - rumour has it this track specialist might actually be starting to get the cross country bug!

Meanwhile... in Bushfield!

Bushfield was at its glorious best as the very best athletes in the County competed in the Even Ages Championships.  (I wasn't able to make today's event and am typing this report before the official results are out, so I might have some corrections to make - apologies if so - I'll correct when I get them, also - if you have pics of anyone not below, please send on!!)

The first race of the day was the under 10 Girls where a fantastic team led home by a brilliant run from Remy Aylmer included Anna Kelly, Avril Reidy, Aisling Lavan, Jenna Brady, Aoileann O'Connor, Ciara Havil, Laura Kelly, Ciara Niland, Faye Whelan, Sophie Meehan, Lily May Grealish and Allie Brady.  They all combined wonderfully to take a marvellous Silver medal.  You go girls!!

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Cross Country is Serious Stuff!!

The under 10 boys matched the girls with a team Silver and added a wonderful individual Gold medal to things from Alan Hallinan!  People in attendance reported Alan's run as one of the performances of the day.  Congrats to him and his huge crew of teammates:  Alan Warde, Eoghan Geraghty, Luke Connaughton, Donal Coyle, Oisin O'Donovan, Dara Kavanagh, Oisin Molloy, Killian Burke, Eoghan Morrissey, Charlie Daniels, Michael Baylon, Daithi Lawless, Noah Brady, Rhys Whelan, Joshua Whiriskey, Darragh Higgins, Zach Keane, Oisin Fallon, Daniel Harty, Darragh O'Donnell, Sean Niland and James Niland!

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The under 12 Girls won a fabulous GOLD with the super team of Keevagh Barry, Katelyn Walsh, Jessica Walsh, Emma O Donovan, Eabha Molloy, Ciara o Conor, Aeeven Kelly, Megan Smith and Claudia Coyle.  Keevagh, Katelyn and Emma all scored in the top 10 of a very strong field!

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Again, the under 12 Boy's team matched their female counterparts with a fantastic performance.  They were led home by Declan O'Connell in a brilliant 2nd position, followed by Stepen Ruane in 3rd and Keelan Moorehead in 4th. Cian Brady was in the top 10 and Jack Farrell was not far behind him!

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With the u14 Girls, Craughwell didn't have a team, but Holly O'Boyle ran excellently to finish well up the strong field in 7th position.  

In the u14 boys race, Mathys Bocquet put on one of his trademark displays of dominant front running to take GOLD by literally a country mile.  He was really not troubled from start to finish in the race, and all the early signs are positive for a smashing season from him.  Fionn Higgins and Sean Liston also ran strongly in the race.

Sadly, with girls athletics the numbers tend to drop off after Junior cert (especially in Connacht for some reason, something we need to work on!) so they combined the u16 and the u18 races into one 4000m event.  Combining them worked well as by all accounts the girl's u16 race was one of the most exciting races of the day for the spectators!  The field soon split up as a leading group of four took out the pace in a chess match to see who could claim top position.  Emily Miskella (u16) and Emma Boyle (u18) were well placed in that top group of four but as they moved into the final lap the pace increased once more and Emily and another u16 athlete broke away from the group to make it a straight shootout to the line with 300m to go.  However, Emily is a smart racer and had saved plenty in the tank - as they rounded the corner she eased into the lead to claim the GOLD in a solid display of tactical racing, completing a Galway double for her with both the u16 and u17 titles.  Emily's performance was enough to lead her u16 teammates of Clodagh O'Meara, Leonore Church, Siofra Davis and Allanah Grogan to a memorable GOLD, all of whom ran brilliantly on the day.  

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Under 16 County Champions 2019!!  Doubling up!!


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Em and Em! The u16 and u18 County XC Champions 2019!

The next race up was the u16 Boys Race where Ross McGuinness was hotly tipped to reclaim his crown from last year.  Ross went to the front but was joined by another fine athlete from GCH new to the scene, and as the 4500m race came to a finish, Ross got pipped in the home straight in a good battle that can only help him as the season progresses.  

Emma Boyle had a superb first outing in a good while to claim a smashing GOLD in the u18 girls in her first run for the club, hopefully the first of many successes for the popular athlete!

Luke Burke was the sole Craughwell Athlete, stepping up in the u18 Boys race and Luke performed strongly, winning Bronze in the u18 race.

In the men's Intermediate race, David Evans had a super run, picking up hugely from his Tuam performance - as he says himself he is "still learning!" - aren't we all!!  The women's intermediate race had one entrant - fellow endurance coach Lisa Thomas donned the spikes for the first time since her childhood and did herself proud in the event.  She went out too hard (don't we all!) but recovered strongly and has a base to build on!

Craughwell had a great day out at the Streets of Galway 2019, with several people claiming PBs and several prizes.  The morning was hideous but by the time the race started it had eased to welcome drizzle and the muggy heat had faded, making for ideal running conditions.  In the team competition, there were several strong outfits in play including Ennis Track (regular winners), an impressive Castlegar crew, Loughrea led by Cathal O'Reilly, South Galway AC, GCH as always strong, Sportsworld and others.  Craughwell had a healthy mix of old and young and were not too far off the team prize at the end, pushing a top-class Ennis team very close.  Still - 2nd men's team was a savage result in this field - in fact 20% of the top 25 runners in the were from Craughwell and we took 3 prizes!


First home for Craughwell was Jamie Fallon who ran a very smart race to finish in 26.24, falling back at 5km to cool off before a smart push to the line.  Jamie is early in his build-up, and looking forward to the cross country!  He just pipped the hugely talented Kevin Mooney on the line in a finish so tight that the timing initially got them the wrong way around in the results!  Kevin is coming back from a break and is building really nicely, he missed Dublin marathon due to a cycling injury, but has plenty to look forward to - not least his wedding (Congrats Kevin and Orla on that!). 

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Next home for Craughwell was Mark Davis (1st o45) in 26.56 closely followed by William Fitzgerald (2nd Junior) in 26:58.  It was a great run from William who felt super-comfortable (unlike me!) and given time, there's no telling how good he will be!  Jack Miskella was 5th for Craughwell - after a year of focusing on (and taking club records at!) 800m and 1500m, 8k was probably a shock to the system, but Jack had a brilliant run to smash 28 minutes with a 27:47. 


Everywhere you looked there was green and white, so we're from quite a fit village!  Brian Matthews beat his time from last year with less training,  Stephen Carty, Gavin Cooney, Brendan Treacy, Mark Campbell, Ollie Niland, Colm McAllen (pb), Reena Deely, Margaret Murphy, Laura Porter, Sharon Gilligan, Irene Fallon, Gerry Treacy, Brenda Casey, Aoife Mullane, Geraldine Fallon, Siobhan Gohery, Julie Gallagher and Marita Carolan all were listed in the results, but there were plenty others running that weren't listed against the club and I couldn't be bothered scrolling through the names to see the ones I recognize!!  One notable one is the distance coach, Lisa Thomas who had a great run herself in addition to coaching the 2nd Junior!  Well done to all, and to GCH on an impeccably organized event.

As usual, John O'Connor has the definitive set of pictures on his website (album 1album 2album 3).


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County Galway Women's team who won silver in the Premier Division of the National League last weekend
Back row: Laura Cunningham (Craughwell), Aoife Sheehy (GCH), Sinead Treacy (Craughwell), Sarah Finnegan (Craughwell), Regina Casey (GCH); Front row: Rachel Finnegan (Craughwell), Sinead Gaffney (Craughwell), Kathryn Casserly (GCH), Arlene Earls (Craughwell), Nicole Walsh (GCH), Aisling Joyce (GCH), Lydia Doyle (GCH); Missing from photo: Freya Bohan (Craughwell), Mary Barrett and Aoibhin Farrell (Loughrea), Emma O'Hara (GCH)

Several athletes from the club starred with the County Galway women’s team which took team silver in the Premier Division of the National Senior League in Tullamore last Sunday. The team which was managed by Sarah Finnegan, came within a whisker of winning the League outright - just missing out by the slender margin of 4 points (which equates to the reversal of 1st and 2nd places in a single event with the winners Dundrum South Dublin).

Laura Cunningham flew over the 5m mark on all 4 of her attempts in the long jump to claim 2nd place with a best of 5.24m only 4cm shy of winning it – terrific jumping form to leap 5+ metres on all 4 jumps and in the process tripling the number of times she has cleared the magical 5m mark. Earlier Laura took 3rd place in the triple jump with a best of 10.13m and combined with Sinead Treacy and 2 GCH athletes to take 2nd place in the 4x100m in an excellent 49.38.

Sinead Treacy was also in top form, racing to a season’s best of 25.20 to place 3rd in the 200m and along with Sinead Gaffney leading the county to a comfortable victory in the 4x400m in an impressive 3:55.15. Rachel Finnegan took 4th place in the 400m hurdles in an excellent 70.24, Sinead Gaffney placed 7th in a tough battle in the 800m in 2:25.11 and Freya Bohan placed 8th in the javelin with a best of 18.83 into the wind.

It was a super performance from the club's athletes not to mention also the fine performances from several other athletes from the club who helped the county team qualify for the final in the earlier rounds including Ailbhe Miskella, Aisling Keady, Alisha Larkin, Aoife Kelly, Ellie Cronin, Leanagh Gilligan, Maeve Curley, Shauna Tobin and Tara McNally.

Also in action in Tullamore, the county’s men’s team took 5th place in the Division 1 final, helped by strong performances from Craughwell AC athletes including Gavin Cooney 3rd in the 800m in 2:00.87, Jack Miskella 3rd in the 1500m in 4:04.64 and 7th in the javelin with 14.65, William Fitzgerald 4th in the 5000m in 16:49.79, Luke Evans 5th in the 3000m steeplechase in 11:25.57, Ryan Gallagher 5th in the long jump with 5.50, and Gavin Cooney and Jack Miskella helping the county to 7th place in the 4x400m.


Some of the Craughwell AC athletes who represented County Galway
in the Womens Premier Division at Round 2 of the National Senior League in Athlone
Freya Bohan, Sarah Finnegan, Sinead Gaffney, Shauna Tobin, Arlene Earls, Laura Cunningham

Several athletes from the club featured on the County Galway Women’s and Men’s team who were in action in round 2 of the National Senior League recently in Athlone.

The women’s team is managed by Craughwell AC’s Sarah Finnegan and they topped their Premier Division group with a score of 211 points to qualify for the final. There were some fine performances from the club's athletes on the day including

  • Sinead Treacy, 1st in the 400m in 58.64
  • Sinead Gaffney, 4th in the 800m in 2:23.26
  • Sarah Finnegan, 4th in the 100m hurdles in 18.79
  • Laura Cunningham, 3rd in the triple jump with a leap of 10.20
  • Alisha Larkin, 4th in the long jump with a leap of 4.91
  • Freya Bohan, 3rd in the javelin with a throw of 25.64
  • Shauna Tobin, 5th in the discus with a throw of 14.98
  • Aoife Kelly, guesting in the hammer and throwing the 4kg weight out to 17.23
  • Arlene Earls who helped the county to 2nd place in the 4x400m in 4:11.37
  • Tara McNally who combined with Sinead Treacy to help Galway to 2nd place in the 4x100m in a time of 50.23

The County Galway men’s team were also in top form, taking 3rd place in the Division 1 group on the day which was good enough to make the final in 4th place overall, assisted by strong performances from Craughwell AC athletes including:

  • Ronnie Warde 4th in the 100m in 12.19, 3rd in the shot putt with 9.82 and combining on the 4x100m for 4th place in 47.15
  • John Cormican 3rd in the 400m in 54.07
  • Gavin Cooney 3rd in the 800m in 2.01.46
  • Jack Miskella 2nd in the 1500m in 4.07.71 and 4th in the javelin with 12.59
  • William Fitzgerald 5th in the 5000m in 16.51.25
  • the 4x400m quartet of Ben Garrard, Jack Miskella, Gavin Cooney and John Cormican who placed 3rd in a time of 3.40.16
Wednesday the 1st. .